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Gustavus Adolphus College

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Program Name

Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation


The country of Ecuador has a high rate of infant and maternal mortality, as well as problems with malnutrition. The Minister of Public Health responded to these problems with a law to provide the public with different types of free medical attention. The Minister’s hope is to reduce these problems with the law. The law is called the Law of Free Motherhood and Attention for Infants (Ley de Maternidad Gratuita y Atención a la Infancia), and includes free attention and vitamins for pregnant women, free birth and post-birth care, and vitamins, attention and vaccinations for children under 5 years of age. In the zone of Intag, of the canton Cotacachi and province Imbabura, there is a high level of poverty as well as a high birth rate. For three weeks, I interviewed 100 women about their knowledge of the law, their use of the law, how they learned of the law, and their use of birth control. I interviewed women in communities with health centers and in communities without health centers. I compared the differences between these places. I found that the majority of the women know of the law and benefit from it, but there is still a lack of knowledge and use of it. Education of the law is located primarily in the health centers, in forms of posters and pamphlets, and therefore is not available to the women who do not regularly visit the health centers. This was also demonstrated in the results that the women who do not live in communities with health centers have less knowledge of the law and also use it less. I believe that the women the live far from the communities with health centers do not have the resources, time, or motivation to travel to the health centers to learn about the law and also to return every month to receive vitamins. The lack of resources of the health providers also inhibits the dispersion of attention and care.


Maternal and Child Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


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